Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Coexisting Diseases

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What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?

As of Sept. 2011, no defined cause of CFS is known, even after about two decades of research on patients that fit the CFS criteria. Although many diseases coexist with CFS in patients, there are no proven links to any known disease (physical or mental) or pathogen that is responsible for CFS development.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that researchers are still trying to identify the cause(s) of CFS and offer some speculation about the ongoing research. For example, they suggest the possibility that CFS represents an endpoint of multiple diseases or conditions such as viral infections, stress, and toxin exposure. However, the CDC states that "CFS is not caused exclusively by any single recognized infectious disease agent." This includes Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi), human retroviruses, bornaviruses, fungi, Mycoplasma spp, and many others. However, if a person has been infected with several (at least three) different pathogens, the chances of getting CFS goes up. In addition, some researchers have suggested that a new virus found in some CFS patients (termed XMRV or xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) may be a candidate for cause, but it has not been proven to date. In addition, although the CDC says no autoimmune changes like lupus or other diseases are found in CFS, many CFS patients have high levels of immune complexes and anti-self antibodies in their blood that may be a clue to help solve the answer to what causes CFS. The CDC mentions other findings (allergies, T cell activation, and cytokines), but none have any direct link to causing CFS.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Fr C, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 11

Subarachnoid hemorrhage a few years ago wiped out my pituitary. No hormones and no adrenal function. On total hormone replacement therapy (HRT) including growth hormone. I am suffering more and more from real fatigue. Just can"t really make the pace but need to keep full time job on the go. Health team suggests that"s the way it is but surely there has to be something for this chronic fatigue syndrome!

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Comment from: shemaggiema, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 23

My CFS was diagnosed about 6 months after the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The pain was significant and was the most pressing issue in the beginning. I had a bout of mononucleosis and never got better. My thinking was severely impaired, I felt as though my head was full of cotton. At first I could manage a partial day at work if I started early in the day. Eventually my memory and cognition became so impaired I could no longer work. I knew I was tired but had no idea why I had no memory and could not keep a train of thought. The diagnosis: CFS.

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